November 22, 2007

Faith, Hope and Charity

We currently know and often meet individuals who see hope, faith and charity as elusive beliefs or forces…abruptly created by despair, sadness and turmoil. Is the desire for hope, the power of faith or the offering of charity exclusively available to only those individuals that are surrounded by joy, happiness and abundance? Does one reach out to “a higher power” only when one experiences fear, doubt, trials or tribulations? We choose to believe that hope for our world…a world without war, hate, hunger, homelessness and pollution should begin from within, demonstrated in our own life, breathed every moment and then shared with our brothers and sisters. We choose to believe that faith must only be a validation of what already is, what will be and what we deserve. We choose to believe that charity is but a word…for with the giving of one’s self, one’s love and one’s commitment without judgment or ego…our beliefs, our actions and our words…can and will naturally provide abundance to all.

Although November was a "typical" month for us here in Champoeg State Heritage Park...teaching, park hosting and “field testing” rain gear, we did decide to go on a short getaway to provide us a respite from these daily routines. The eastern Cascade Mountain Range and the high desert plateaus of central Oregon have always drawn us to explore…so east we journeyed…for the power, beauty and peace the mountains and rivers bring us.

As we made passage through the Santiam Pass atop ice covered roads, we had our first glimpse of Oregon’s winter wonderland. We marveled at the brilliant displays of frozen “ice trees” and the vistas of snow covered peaks. As we drove down to the gateway to the Cascades, Sisters, Oregon, we came to realize, that although completely prepared with cold weather gear, these winter conditions reminded us that we were in very unfamiliar territory. People drove through town with studded tires. Temperatures during the day were well below freezing and a bone chilling 11 degrees at night. Although outside conditions were somewhat extreme for us (wanna-be Oregonians), weather did not prevent us from having a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend. The Three Sisters, South, Middle and North peaks (also nicknamed the title of this post), give Sisters its name and identity. Rising out of its literal back yard are mountain peaks towering to more than 10,000 feet, creating an incredible skyline over this small western town.

During this trip, we not only managed to explore Sisters and many of it’s unique shopping boutiques, but also Camp Sherman on the Metolius River, Downtown Bend, the beautiful High Desert Museum, the Tumalo State Park on the Deschutes River and Black Butte Ranch. We also were able to have dinner at historic Bronco Billy's Ranch Grill and Saloon. The building built in 1912, was a hotel, drug store, an antique store and now a restaurant, is one of the most photographed in Central Oregon…food was good too!

As we close out November in the fields of Champoeg, we begin our last month of park hosting in Oregon. We also bid a goodbye to our fellow hosts and friends, Dick & Melinda. We wish them safe travels, new adventures and more opportunities to pass on their “lifestuff” to those that have the good fortune to cross their path. Their wisdom and talent is featured at

November 3, 2007

Trick or Treat

October…the month of spectacular fall colors...and of course.... trick or treats. The month began with a wonderful visit from Eric & Brenda. And then we were provided with a special trick... early one afternoon, our friend Mateo from San Simeon State Park surprisingly showed up at Champoeg. We knew he was traveling the Pacific Northwest visiting friends and had hoped he would have some time to connect with us. Seeing his camper parked behind our coach brought more joy to our day. It was a very special visit and we thoroughly enjoyed his company, the sharing of his Guatamala adventure and photos he took and then of course... a conversation about our beloved Central Coast which was our "dessert" to close the evening.

We bid farewell to October with a very timely and nourishing visit from the Nicolais of Cloverdale. Along with their visit, they also brought some very special treats... the bright, sunny and warm weather of Sonoma County, a "few" choice pounds of delicious tri-tips for the grill and some tasty samples of locally grown "grape juice". Just what the doctor and dad!

With an offering of fantastic weather we all escaped to the outdoors to share and explore some of our local landscapes and sights. With the folks being drawn to nurseries and gardens...and then some more nurseries and gardens, how could we have ignored the hilltop views of Red Ridge Farms Nursery or beautiful landscaped grounds at the Oregon Gardens? Well we didn't.
The hilltop vistas from Red Ridge Farms in Dundee definitely showcase the beautiful fall colors of this part of the state. Set in a very tranquil and peaceful setting, you could browse through the boutique, share a picnic basket and a bottle of local wine or just relax and be.

The Oregon Gardens welcomed us with 20 specialty gardens and features. We strolled through waterfalls, quiet ponds, fountains, a unique display of conifers, a 400-year old Signature Oak, a garden just for children, beautiful vistas and some pretty cool art.

Although it is a hidden gem in the dense coastal forests of southwest Oregon, we are in close proximity to the largest state park in Oregon, Silver Falls State Natural Area. The park gives one many reasons to stop...but since the Nicolais never miss any opportunity for adventure... what a perfect way to stretch our legs, walk behind, through and around breathtaking South Falls...all the while savoring the crisp clean air, autumn colors and taking a "few" choice photos of the park.

The beautiful Evergreen Air Museum proved to be quite unique and showcased an excellent collection of military and civilian aircraft...with the centerpiece being Howard Hughes' magnificent Spruce Goose. You could easily spend an entire afternoon marveling at all the exhibits and historical data.

But just as November sunrises begin, they also set...and we sadly had to bid a farewell to mom and dad...but they take with them a vivid memory of the beauty of the Willamette Valley. What a comfort it was to see them both.